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Data from: Phylogenomics offers resolution of major tunicate relationships

Cite this dataset

Kocot, Kevin M.; Tassia, Michael G.; Halanych, Kenneth M.; Swalla, Billie J. (2018). Data from: Phylogenomics offers resolution of major tunicate relationships [Dataset]. Dryad.


Tunicata, a diverse clade of approximately 3,000 described species of marine, filter-feeding chordates, is of great interest to researchers because tunicates are the closest living relatives of vertebrates and they facilitate comparative studies of our own biology. The group also includes numerous invasive species that cause considerable economic damage and some species of tunicates are edible. Despite their diversity and importance, relationships among major lineages of Tunicata are not completely resolved. Here, we supplemented public data with transcriptomes from seven species spanning the diversity of Tunicata and conducted phylogenomic analyses on data sets of up to 798 genes. Sensitivity analyses were employed to examine the influences of reducing compositional heterogeneity and branch-length heterogeneity. All analyses maximally supported a monophyletic Tunicata within Olfactores (Vertebrata + Tunicata). Within Tunicata, all analyses recovered Appendicularia sister to the rest of Tunicata and confirmed (with maximal support) that Thaliacea is nested within Ascidiacea. Stolidobranchia is the sister taxon to all other tunicates except Appendicularia. In most analyses, phlebobranch tunicates were recovered paraphyletic with respect to Aplousobranchia. Support for this topology varied but was strong in some cases. However, when only the 50 best genes based on compositional heterogeneity were analysed, we recovered Phlebobranchia and Aplousobranchia reciprocally monophyletic with strong support, consistent with most traditional morphology-based hypotheses. Examination of internode certainty also cast doubt on results of phlebobranch paraphyly, which may be due to limited taxon sampling. Taken together, these results provide a higher-level phylogenetic framework for our closest living invertebrate relatives.

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